Things to do in Baku in 3 days – A complete guide

trip to Baku

Until very recently, Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, was a real off the beaten track destination only known by the most intrepid travelers.

Pierce Brosnan, in the James Bond movie The world is not enough, was the first person who finally told us about its existence, when he showed images of some oil fields right in the desert plains around Baku.

Those images, however, didn’t really trigger any interest in the country, as people thought that, perhaps, Baku was not very different from the Arab Gulf monarchies, which was a really wrong approach.

Whereas it is true that Baku is an oil-rich city and, in fact, Azerbaijan was the top world exporter at the beginning of the 20th century, many years before the Gulf monarchies discovered the black gold, on the other hand, it is also a city with a very deep history, belonging to a region which has been inhabited for thousands of years, besides having an important role in the Silk Road, as well as, of course, being part of the USSR for nearly a century.

Nevertheless, thanks to exponential development, Baku today is an almost futuristic city that manages to combine both tradition and modernity, two elements which can be seen together all across the city.

After visiting Baku on two occasions, in 2016 and 2018, here is a complete Baku travel guide with all the best things to do in Baku in 3 days, including plenty of travel tips.

For more places to visit in the country, read my complete itinerary to Azerbaijan

  things to do in Baku  

In this Baku travel guide you will find:

Visa for visiting Baku
Travel insurance for Baku
Where to stay in Baku
How to move around Baku
What to do in Baku: 3-day itinerary
Where to eat in Baku
More information

Total transparency! – If you like my website and found this post useful, remember that, if you buy any service through any of my links, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you. These earnings help me maintain and keep Against the Compass going! Thanks 

From the end of the 19th century, Baku has been a global leader in oil exportation and has been growing at full speed, but it was only after the dissolution of the USSR and Azerbaijan’s post-independence, that this development was accelerated, Baku became a futuristic and modern city, perfectly comparable to European standards.

However, due to the obvious corruption, or preferably, bad resource management, this development has been exclusively focused on the capital, to the extent that its contrast with the second largest city, Ganja, where you can still find unpaved streets in the city center, is huge.

The capital of Azerbaijan is a luxurious city, a Dubai-like-concept but with a real soul, meaning that, in the city center, you can find a Rolls Royce official store and the most luxury brand stores, along with buildings and mosques from the 12th century.

Going to Tbilisi? Check out my city guide to Tbilisi

Baku tourist guide
A carpet seller and the Flame Towers behind – Baku tourist guide

Baku is, definitely, the most developed city in the Caucasus (including Armenia and Georgia) but, in my humble opinion, this development is economic, not social.

Whereas, in its neighbor Georgia, many young people are quickly learning European values, in Baku, even though they are a rich and supposedly secular city, people are much more traditional, and you will quickly realize when you only see men hanging out in most places, people not speaking English and, overall, people being more closed-minded.

However, visiting Baku is totally worth it and not only due to its eccentric composition but also because it is a real blend of Europe, the East, and the Soviet Union, so, so chaotic, that it’s practically impossible to define it, and that’s the most exciting thing about it.

Do you know what a VPN is? A Virtual Private Network allows you to access blocked sites when you travel, as well as it lets you access content only available in your home country (like Netflix), plus it prevents hackers from stealing your personal data. Learn here why you should always use a VPN when you travel

What to do in baku
Some tourists posing at the I love Baku – What to do in Baku


Visa for visiting Baku

From January 2016, you can apply for an e-visa to visit Baku.

The visa costs 23USD, takes 3 working days and is valid for 30 days.

For 50USD, you can also apply for an urgent visa and get it on the same day.

All Western nationalities are eligible for the e-visa but you can check the full country list here.

Weird modern art next to Aliyev Center – What to do in Baku


Travel Insurance for visiting Baku

Regardless of where you go, you must always travel with proper travel insurance. For visiting Baku and Azerbaijan, I recommend World Nomads. Why?

  • It is the only company that offers unlimited medical coverage
  • They cover loads of adventure activities, more than any other
  • They provide coverage to a large number of nationalities


If you want to know more options, read how to find the best backpacking insurance


Where to stay in Baku

Backpackers HostelSahil Hostel – The busiest hostel in town, as it is really cheap, plus everything is brand-new and very clean. A nice place to meet other travelers, it also has private rooms.

Click here to check prices and availability


Budget Guest House – Khazar Old City Guest House – If you want to stay in a traditional house, in the heart of the old city, this is the most highly recommended.

Click here to check prices and availability


Mid-range Hotel – Denize Inn Boutique Hotel – The top well-rated boutique hotel in town is a traditional building in the old part of Baku.

Click here to check prices and availability


Top-end – Four Seasons – Located downtown, this is the best 5-star hotel in Baku. The building where is it built is a real landmark, by the way.

Click here to check prices and availability


Transportation – How to move when visiting Baku

Taxi – In order to avoid bargaining with taxi drivers, I recommend you use Uber and short taxi rides costing around 2-3AZN (1.20 – 1.70USD), so moving around by taxi is also a feasible way to check all the places to visit in Baku. Apparently, Yandex isn’t available anymore.

Metro – There are two metro lines and a single ticket costs 0.30AZN (18¢). However, first, you have to get a metro top-up card which costs 2AZN (1.20USD). Alternatively, you can buy a single-use metro card, which you can only top-up once and costs 0.20AZN (12¢).

Bus – There is a modern bus network but you will have to know where you are going. The price is the same as in the metro.

How to get from and to the airport

Bus – There are buses going and coming to the airport every 20 or 30 minutes, all day long. They drop you off in downtown, in front of 28th May metro station. A single ticket costs 1.30AZN (75¢) and it also works with the metro card.

Taxi – With Uber, a taxi ride costs around 10AZN (5.90USD).

For generic info about the country, read everything you need to know to travel to Azerbaijan

Baku train station. That was the train I took from Tbilisi


Things to do in Baku in 3 days

In 3 days, you can cover most things to do in Baku, including a day trip to visit the mud volcanoes and the petroglyphs of Qobustan.

If you are interested in all the tours offered in Baku, as well as day trips from Baku, there is a large offer of tours which can be booked online. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE

Map of the places to visit in Baku


What to do in Baku on day 1

The first day Baku itinerary is quite optimistic but, if you plan well-ahead, I think you can manage it.

Baku Old City

A UNESCO World Heritage site, the walls of the Old City mark the boundaries of where the city used to extend.

Its oldest building is claimed to date from the 11th century, although some historians think that it might belong to the 7th.

As in any old city, the best you can do is getting lost among its entangled streets but there are a few buildings which are must-visits, like Maiden Tower, one of the most iconic buildings in the country, which is even printed in one of their notes.

The tower contains a museum that shows the historical evolution of Baku and you can also climb to the top to enjoy some of the best views in the city. Going to the top costs 10AZN (5,90USD).

The other building which you can’t miss is the Shirvanshas Palace, whose main attraction is a stunning mosque from the 15th century. The Shirvanshas is the dynasty that ruled the region for nearly 700 years, from the 9th to the 16th century.

From all the things to do in Baku, the Old City is, certainly, the most interesting one.

Do you want to visit the Old City of Baku with a professional guide? CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE

Best places to visit in Baku
A 15th-century mosque and the futuristic Flame Towers – Best places to visit in Baku


The Carpet Museum

In my opinion, the cool part about the Carpet Museum is not getting in, as the outside is much more awesome than inside. Jokes aside. If you are interested in Persian carpets, just go ahead but, if not, the coolest thing is to take pictures at the waving walls that are trying to imitate a carpet.

Read: Everything you need to know to travel to Georgia

Visit Baku Azerbaijan
The Carpet Museum – Visit Baku Azerbaijan


The Flame Towers

The Flame Towers are the three flame-shaped skyscrapers which managed to link Baku to the concept of futurism by themselves.

To be honest, they are only 182 meters high but, due to their position, in the upper part of Baku, they are visible from anywhere.

You can get there on foot through some stairs that go along a beautiful park. There is a funicular at the bottom of the park but I always found it closed.

The towers were finished in 2012 and, besides showing off, their main purpose is to accommodate pretentious businesses like Fairmont Hotel, one of the top hotels in the city, a Lamborghini dealer store, and I don’t know what other posh stuff.

Baku travel guide
The Flame Towers, always visible from everywhere – Baku travel guide


The oil extractors

This place is off the main tourist trail but, if you are interested in checking out some perfectly functional oil drillers, this is your chance.

They are not very far and, actually, you can get there on foot from the Flame Towers. They are just behind the TV tower (you can see the exact location on the map), from where you can also enjoy pretty cool views of the city and the bay.

By the way, if you get down to the seaside, you will pass by a very poor neighborhood of Baku, which clearly shows the huge social inequality that rules in this country.

petrol extractors Baku
The petrol extractors in Baku


Taza Pir Mosque

A one-hundred-year-old mosque, even though it was built on a place that used to serve as a sanctuary from the 15th century.

To be honest, this isn’t an outstanding mosque but, for me, the most interesting part was to see the other face of Azerbaijan, which is the face of Azerbaijani men worshipping and showing their faith to Islam.

Like all the Muslim ex-Soviet countries, the Government of Azerbaijan is secular but, its main peculiarity is that, unlike the rest of the world, the most religious people are the young ones and not the elderly that lived in the Soviet Union, as Islam is only now coming into fashion. When I was traveling in Uzbekistan, I also observed a similar situation.

Places to visit in Baku Azerbaijan
Azerbaijani people praying – Places to visit in Baku Azerbaijan


Heydar Aliyev Center

Another pretty cool thing to do in Baku is visiting the futuristic building whose architect is the deceased Iraqi-British woman Zaha Hadid.

With its surrealistic and almost impossible curved walls, this building is a perfect sample of innovation and modern art.

Its surroundings are filled with super weird statues, like giant rabbits and snails, apart from the classic I Love Baku.

The building accommodates different types of temporary exhibitions. The entrance fee costs 15AZN (9USD).

Things to do in Baku Azerbaijan
The impressive center – Things to do in Baku Azerbaijan


Museum of Miniature Books

If you have the time, you can also visit the museum that has the World Guinness Record for the largest collection of miniature books, including the 3 smallest books ever, measuring 2mmx2mm, which can only be seen using a microscope.

Like me, you may be thinking that those mini-books don’t make a lot of sense, basically because you can’t read them, but they originate in an ancient Persian tradition.


Fountain Square and the rest of downtown

Composed of the most fashionable shops, restaurants, bars, hipster cafés, parks and so on, I recommend you finish your day in downtown, in the area around Fountain Square, the place where all the local people gather to hang out.

fountain square Baku
The Fountain Square – Baku travel guide


What to do in Baku on day 2

Yasil Market

I bumped into this market by mere chance and then I found out that it is very famous among locals, but I didn’t see any tourists.

Yasil is a traditional market which has been restored as per Baku modern standards. It is a typical fruit and vegetable market and everything sold is seasonal.

I was lucky enough to visit Baku in October, the pomegranate season, the symbol of Azerbaijan.

Almost all stalls were filled with pomegranates and they were selling freshly squeezed juice for just 1AZN (60¢).

10 things to do in Baku
Pomegranates in Yasil Market – 10 things to do in Baku


Yanar Dag (Burning Mountain)

Did you know that Azerbaijan was formerly called The Land of Fire?

From the 12th century, tales from travelers wandering this region mentioned the existence of several magic fires found across the area.

They thought those fires were magic because they burnt continuously without any wood but, what they didn’t know is that the fire was coming from natural underground gas fields.

Yanar Dag is one of those fires which is still burning, even though the fire is artificial today, as it was extinguished after they discovered an oil reserve next to it in the 19th century.

How to get there – Yanar Dag is outside of the city. To get there, you will have to catch the 147 bus from Azadliq metro station. Alternatively, you could also get there by Uber, which is easier, quicker and won’t cost you much.


Fire Temple Ateshgah

In the 18th century, a merchant traveler was so fascinated by one of those flames that he decided to build a worshipping temple on it.

How to get there – The temple is very close to the airport and the 184 bus passes close to it.

By the way, if you prefer to go on an organized tour, basically, to have someone explain all the history to you, the people from GetYourGuide offer a complete 4-hour tour that includes Yanar Dag + Fire Temple + Yasil Market.

GetYourGuide is a website on which you can book loads of tours from around the world.


what to visit in Baku
The Fire temple – what to visit in Baku


What to do in Baku on Day 3

Day trip to Qobustan to see the petroglyphs and the mud volcanoes

During the Stone Age, around 15,000 years ago, when the Caspian Sea waters were higher and the region was completely green and fertile, a bunch of hunters decided to settle in some caves in the area.

These caves were decorated with their own art style and more than 600 petroglyphs were drawn, many of them still being in very good conditions. Today, these paintings have become one of the best places to visit in Baku.

For more information, read my article about the petroglyphs of Qobustan (it includes prices and how to get there).

Some tribal men dancing – Places to visit in Baku

Moreover, if you are interested, you can also visit some volcanoes that expel mud, which have become a real tourist attraction. They are very close to the petroglyphs and you can only go by car.

If you want to make things easier and go with a guide, I recommend you also book a tour with the guys from GetYourGuide, which includes a visit to the petroglyphs + mud volcanoes + an ancient mosque from the area.

This tour, in particular, has some really great reviews, so I think it’s worth it.



Where to eat in Baku

Here are my restaurant recommendations (all places are frequented by locals).

BudgetXezer Restaurant – Local eatery serving traditional food.

Gourmet fast foodGourmet Pendir & Chorek – The first national fast-food chain in Azerbaijan serves good quality local sandwiches and stuff like that.

Fine diningSumakh – A local fancy restaurant serving high-quality food and awesome service.

Azerbaijani food
Yarpak Xangal, consisting of layers of pasta, meat, caramelized onion and yogurt. A very heavy dish


More information for visiting Baku

Tours – Here you can see a big bunch of tours in Baku, as well as day trips from Baku. CLICK HERE TO SEE ALL TOURS.

SIM Card – You will need one, especially to move around by Uber. I recommend Azercell. You can buy a SIM Card in many mobile stores but you should go to the official store of Azercell, as you will be charged the real price. There is a big one in Fountain Square.

Here you can check:

Azerbaijan practical information
Inspirational reasons for visiting Azerbaijan
A guide to things to do in Baku

More former Soviet capitals:

Going to Georgia as well? Here’s my mega guide to visiting Georgia

And here my travel guide to Tbilisi

After Azerbaijan, many travelers go to Iran. Here you can check all my articles and guides to Iran.

These were my top recommendations of what to do in Baku. If you know from any other places to visit in Baku, kindly let us know in the comments section. 

  places to visit in Baku  

Disclosure: As a traveler, I use all the companies I recommend and you should know that, if you buy any service through any of these links, I get a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

Start planning and booking your trip

For booking accommodation

Use for hotels and guesthouses

Check on Hostelworld for for backpacker hostels

For travel insurance (with COVID-19 coverage), I recommend:

1 – IATI Insurance (5% discount) – Cheapest travel insurance and for travelers above 70

2 – True Traveller – Best backpacking insurance (only Europeans)


For all your travel gear

Trekking equipment, books, etc, check on Amazon

If you want to know all the companies I use to plan my trips, check my travel resources page


  1. I never went to the oil extractors and i wish i had thought about that! One thing i think you should have mentioned though is the beautiful designs of some of the metro stations 🙂

  2. Hey Joan, I love this travel guide to Baku very much, very detailed, thank you 🙂
    I have a question: is it safe to take photos of the petrol extractors?
    I mean, I am pretty sure that in some countries they would not like people to sniff around them, for several reasons. I have been living in several countries in the Arab Gulf, and I am pretty sure that you would not be allowed to take photos of them. I would not even try it!
    Thank you and keep up the good work!

    1. Hey Marc, thank you for your email.
      You can’t really compare it to the Gulf because the Gulf petrol areas are very deep into the desert and they are in restricted areas. The ones in Baku are in the suburbs of the city, some of them located right next to houses, meaning that the area is not restricted at all. Does this mean that you can take a photo of them? Well, I don’t know, but I have been there twice and there wasn’t official surveillance at all. I only saw a few workers roaming around who didn’t really care about my presence.

  3. Hi,
    I am reading over and again – to prepare for our short visit coming up to Baku.
    Just so you know, the visa is now good for 90 days.
    Any thoughts on survival guide for vegetarians (no egg, fish, meat, chicken, in short no animal food of any kind) who can take milk, yoghurt?

    1. Hi Vasu, the visa is valid for 30 days. I just re-checked the official e-visa portal and there are no changes. I think you are confused because it says that you can travel for 30 days within a 90 days period but you can’t exceed those 30 days.

      I am not a vegetarian, so I can’t really give you many tips. They don’t have a very vegan cuisine but I remember that most menus had salads and some eggplant-based dishes.

  4. Thank u very much for valuable informatin you prensent for us.Baku,s weather,s more pleasent and mild and than dubai.Baku is the capital of Azeebayjan, İt,s people are turk, it was colonized by soviet 101 years ago, but they,re not russion. Thank u every body★)

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